Written by Jennifer Blackmer. Directed by Steve Jarrard.
The Sherry Theatre, 11052 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
The Collaborative Artists Ensemble always finds plays that explore the depths of human existence.
They seem fascinated by the way our minds work, as well as by the many ways that they do not. “Unraveled” is a heart-breaking journey through one woman’s story of coping with her beloved mother’s particular unravelling. It’s not at all as obvious as it might sound. There is madness of course, but the mother’s mind is affected by cancer treatment, and her decline is clinical as well as emotional. The daughter, however, her unravelling is far more of a direct result of her environment, her inability to face her mother’s death and an inmate need to control everything…sound familiar?
I cannot tell you how well I related to this challenging and compelling play.
I lost both my parent to cancer and apart from the terrible toll it took on them physically, the mental decline, particularly linked to the drugs and the treatments, were far more upsetting…for them as well as for those around them.
How very clever of this brilliant playwright, Jennifer Blackmer, to have her heroine be a physicist and one who studies time. It gives such a perfect excuse to have us all traveling back and forth through her life, like stepping in and out of the folds of her memories. One minute with her as a child, the next as a shy teenager, the next back were we started with her trying to care for a mother who mostly doesn’t even know who she is.
Her relationship with the nurse she hires to help her, someone who is her polar opposite in almost every way, is genuinely beautiful. As much as she fights the reality of what is unfolding, as much as she tries to force her mother to be what she could never be again, it is this tenuous connection that saves her. In the end, tenuous connections tend to save us all, don’t they?
It’s a very emotional piece and one so beautifully performed and tenderly produced that the audience feels safe enough to weep as well as to laugh at all the absurdities of the human condition.
The staging is inventive and deftly done, without being too much that it interferes with the piece and the really wonderful acting.
This is a play for those who think, for those who feel and for those who love….really, really hard.
I miss my parents and I thought of them through every line, but not so much that I couldn’t smile and laugh and see the beauty in remembering.
Running Nov 15 through Dec 8, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm
Cast: Carolyn Crotty, Kathy Bell Denton, Jake Jensen, Drew Lee Davis-Wheeler, Heidi Shon and Meg Wallace